Tagarchief: prejudice

Of Idea and Mankind: a fable

Once upon a time Idea led a happy life. It existed long before Mankind was born. Then Mankind came into the world. Idea did not know where Mankind came from but Mankind brought something that threatened Idea: Mankind brought Thought. And Idea did not like mankind.

You see, Idea without Thought was free. Idea could be fixed, preconceived, intelligent, profound, or any combination of these and others. Idea had many tentacles that had grown in size and autonomy without anything standing in the way. Now Mankind came into its world and Idea saw with growing fear that Mankind was beginning to contest Idea in lands where it wanted to grow some more.

At first Mankind merely tested the boundaries of Idea and it grunted its way along the paths of an expanding species. Idea still felt safe in those early years. Thought was a weapon that Mankind at first wielded with primitive imperfection. It could only infrequently and ineffectually connect with Idea in skirmishes that were easy for Idea to beat down with its many tentacles. Idea existed in its own preconception that it was safe from harm from these ape-like creatures. It even managed to shape the mind of Mankind to its uses. Idea managed to plant itself into heads that were until then largely unformed and it easily duped the primitive souls into accepting Idea for Truth.

But after a while Idea felt resisted. It became harder to infiltrate the minds of Mankind. A strange force became apparent in the employment of Thought. Mankind had secretly developed the weapon. It had hardened the material and sharpened the edge. Mankind had trained its muscles and practised its precision. Thought became an effective weapon in the battle against Idea and what used to be skirmishes now became a full fledged war.

At first the war raged, shifting its advantage from one camp to the other. But slowly Thought learned the tactics of Idea. Thought learned to read Idea and pre-empt its strikes. Every time Idea set its pieces on the board it found the board had changed.

Soon the war took on a different character again. Whenever Idea raised itself above the parapet Mankind applied Thought to make Idea duck for cover. In some instances Idea even lost some of its tentacles. In other cases, some of its most established tentacles came under so much attack from Thought that they were unrecognisably maimed. A weak reflection of their former selves, these tentacles, who acted largely autonomously, thrashed about. Ineffectual and harmless. Mankind laughed at the strange spectacle this afforded. Instead of the impressive robes of power these tentacles once wore their attire now resembled the costume of a clown. Garish and flopping, the tattered robes failed to hide the puerility underneath. Idea lost more and more of its tentacles in that way.

So Idea took to hiding and the war turned into a hunt where Thought chased Idea whenever it dared to break cover. When Thought caught Idea, which happened more and more often, Thought took away another tentacle. Thought never managed to kill Idea though. Idea had grown too large, too all encompassing for Thought to be able to do that. But after only a few thousand years the war ultimately turned in favour of Thought and Idea had to satisfy itself with the untamed masses of Mankind that resided in the no-man’s land where Thought could not yet reach. In that bleak and inhospitable land Idea still managed to reign with a semblance of its former glory.

But Thought had one final arrow upon its bow. An arrow that carried a deadly poison. Thought had decided that since it was unable to kill Idea once and for all, it would use intrigue to bring down Idea.

One day Idea woke up where it had fallen asleep safe in the bosom of the masses. Something was not right, Idea knew the moment it woke up. It felt uneasy about something but it could not exactly tell what was the matter. It inspected its tentacles, many of which carried familiar wounds. Idea grieved over the stumps that indicated the missing. Then it saw something strange. One tentacle had curled back upon itself and had entered the main body of Idea. It was one of the tentacles Idea had worried about not too long ago. In a recent battle, Thought had held on to this tentacle a long time. Idea had been certain it would lose yet another tentacle but had rejoiced when it had seen the tentacle come back largely unhurt. Or so it had seemed. Too late, Idea now realised the wounds dealt to this tentacle had not been superficial but internal. Thought had maimed this tentacle in a way Idea could not do anything about: it had gone mad.

Burrowing deep into its flesh the tentacle had implanted itself into its host. There was an insane tentacle digging away inside, a tentacle carrying a virus-like idea grew inside the very core of Idea. A vague notion that its existence was valid only as a subject of Thought and not as a sovereign entity began to gnaw at Idea. It was not equipped to fight the tentacle that was ever growing in its body. Slowly the fixed state that had given Idea its status all these billions of years was crumbling like a medieval castle giving up ages of superiority to a newly forged canon.

It still took many years in which Idea denied its in-growing tentacle and threshed its few healthy tentacles about with the vigour of an animal facing certain subjugation. But it was no use in the end: Idea was doomed. The tentacle growing inside was coiling its core and suffocating the fixed state like a snake. Finally Idea had to acknowledge that its only option was submission to Thought.

Like a wounded animal, Idea gave up one day. It crawled out of its hiding place and limped towards Thought. The masses wailed mournfully at the removal of their false but secure master. They grasped for the tentacles that trailed after Idea. But they could not prevent Idea from subjecting to Thought. And not long after that day all Mankind heard Thought, their new master, speak and they learned to question Idea.